Letter to Monty

Dear Monty,

There is no doubting the change in our climate, and no doubt I have a hand in it too. What I do doubt however is my ability to change what is happening...King Canute comes to mind...but I still try.

Can music save us ? Music comes from a place which communicates directly on the level of our emotions. Music certainly saved me from anxious thoughts this very morning, sitting in the 'thinking room'. Music calms the troubled breast, just like when David played the harp to King Saul.

Alison Levey known as Papaver to her twitter.com friends, blogged about a garden she visited recently which helped her absorb peace, I am not being flippant in these letters, I really believe that we can change how we view our world and the earth and everything in it. Absorb peace while you can, whether it is through listening to music or reading or sitting in your garden drinking a cup of tea, or cutting back or digging and smelling the newly turned soil, or the new cut grass, or watching the mass of hover flies on late daisies.

Yesterday we went for a walk, the mountains were blue, limestone blue and the thin soil was carpeted by scabious.

Halfway we stopped at Craig - y - Nos Country Park and had a cup of good coffee, but our peace was drowned out by a dramatic and loud voiced Canadian. It is good that posh Canadians and posh Englishmen and women deem our valley fit to visit, this being the less posh end of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Too close to the valleys with the memories of sweat and industry. The hills form a barrier between the posh and the unposh.

I suppose this valley town I live in could be called a 'dump' - I remember when we first moved here from the Isle of Wight, the estate agent said 'why do you want to move to a dump like this ?' To us it was nothing of the kind, it was post industrial yes, but the scars of industry were being softened by nature.

Jonathan Meades in the Telegraph Magazine said... "I hate this idea that such and such is a dump or a 'chav' town. All places have qualities if you bother to discern them." Of course he lives in Marseilles.

Anyway, here in this old 'Morgans Cwmtawe Band' band hall, next to municipal play park and  the coal tip of Tir Bach Colliery, there is a kind of sad romance. The sweat that dug out the mountains is long gone and buried in overgrown graveyards. Few of the old miners remain, their astonished faces cannot comprehend our soft lives - how can we stand to live in a world where there is no real work? Astonished also by their loneliness in the very communities that they helped to build. The astonishment is traceable in their lined faces, trembling blue-flecked hands, and the rattle and wheeze of their coal filled lungs...what was it all for ? Honesty and community ?

Sometimes I see things here in the landscape that they may not recognise. I see glimpses of Italy in the pines overlooking the valley, I see scruffiness and decay yes, but also resurrection and a love of the hills that surround us. Hope remains.

                                         'When there were no oceans, I was given birth,
                                          when there were no springs abounding with water;
                                          before the mountains were settled in place,
                                          before the hills, I was given birth..'



  1. Replies
    1. Thank you, I always wonder if these scattered thoughts actually communicate anything !

  2. Places that are rough around the edges, are much more interesting than smug places where everyone obsesses over every silly little detail. Nice post. I like the thought of blue stone. It is a long time since I've walked over slate.

    1. Thank you for our comment, I believe there is a kind of beauty in areas which are reclaimed by nature. I love the hills of Snowdonia for the same reason. But at the same time the honest hard graft that dug out the hills will never be replaced, and in some ways I think we are poorer for it. These communities existed for the coal and the slate, the rural economy replaced by an industrial one. Now we are lost in a post industrial age and it is unclear exactly where we are headed.


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